The Commitment I Want, The Commitment I Need

The college laundromat is like the watering hole or well from ancient times: It’s where you find the singles. So naturally, that’s where I met my first boyfriend. As our perfect romance played out, I thought I had found the man I would spend the rest of my life with—but it only took a moment to discover I wouldn’t.

It all started when a friend mentioned a guy from our apartment complex who had been asking about me.

She was the second friend to mention him, and I was naturally intrigued.  Soon after, he sent me a Facebook friend request, and I bashfully accepted.

After some Facebook stalking on my part, I noticed he was online. So I posted, as a status, “Time to go do laundry!” He saw it.

That night at the laundromat, as I was pouring detergent into the washer, he walked in, with a volleyball. The volleyball (I discovered) was a release for his nervous energy, plus a conversation starter. Before we knew it, five hours had passed. Which was more than enough time to finish my laundry.

He asked me out the next day, and he turned out to be a great boyfriend. Since we lived so close, we saw a lot of each other. He took me out often and always paid. We studied and went to church together. We spent almost all our free time together. And since we were both athletic, we even competed in races side-by-side.He was the first boy who held my hand and my first kiss. He helped me move—without complaining—and I could brag about him when he bought me flowers and jewelry. During our long-distance breaks we Skyped daily. He even flew out to see me and meet my family (twice). The biggest thing, however, was how special and accepted he made me feel.

In high school, I had made a decision that I would not date someone more than a year without knowing whether we were heading toward marriage. I had watched too many relationships go for three, five, or even ten years without marriage on the horizon. I didn’t want that. Plus, I thought, rather arrogantly, he shouldn’t need more than a year to decide if he wants to be with me anyway. As the months passed, I contemplated the possibility of marriage. He too was talking about “we,” and one day he suggested we look at engagement rings.

One weekend we drove out to visit his family. As we rode in his truck, out on an open country road, we talked about his close friend who was married to a woman who spent a lot of money. From the examples he gave, it sounded like it was causing significant marital problems. My boyfriend was really upset on behalf of his friend, and said, “If I was in his shoes, I would divorce her.”

Dumbfounded, yet hopeful, I replied “Wouldn’t you try to get help, or counseling, or something first?” To which he quickly replied, “Not if I didn’t think it was going to help.”

I thought for a second, and instantly realized: It was over. And it made me sad, but I didn’t say anything else. I didn’t want to overreact. But I just knew, deep inside, it was only a matter of time.

As a thrifty person myself, I wasn’t concerned about someday turning into a shopaholic and thus tempting him to divorce me. But, I was troubled by his lack of respect for his future vows—”for richer or poorer” was more like “til debt do us part.” And I was left thinking, “What other excuses might he use to abandon the commitment to love and cherish me forever?”

Leitner 2nd photo

I remembered what psychologist James Dobson said: “Marriage succeeds only as a lifetime commitment with no escape clauses.” And I realized he wasn’t going to be all in. He saw divorce as an option before we had even faced a problem. I knew marriages didn’t last with that kind of attitude. I wasn’t willing to take that risk.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage; things will happen and it’s the willingness to grow and learn together that creates a strong and happy marriage. These are crucial qualities to look for when selecting a lifelong partner.

A good marriage is a team effort. I want—and need—a teammate who, when a problem arises, will fight for our marriage, not only with words, but also with actions. I want a man with a winner’s attitude. I want a man who will fight for love.

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The Commitment I Want, The Commitment I Need

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  • I applaud your follow through with your standards. However, I didn’t see it mentioned where there was an in depth conversation about both of your beliefs though. I hope it happened. From how the article was written it sounded like an assumption was made that he wouldn’t change. I’ll get some hate for this I’m sure, but finding escapes in a relationship works both ways. Yes, what a person says now can possibly be a predictor of what they will believe in the future, but things can change. Even in a happily married couple, very serious issues get talked through all the time that may be deal breakers for an early relationship. The only difference is staying by a persons side for better or for worse, just like you said.

    • Brian,
      Thanks for reading! You’re right, it wasn’t mentioned here. You can only share so much in a small space.

      Over the course of this 10 month relationship, we were very open about talking about everything under the sun. At the time of this story occurring, I did not jump to the conclusion that I should end the relationship right away. I waited, watched, and pondered. However, in retrospect, this was the key moment when I realized we wouldn’t work long-term because I realized our values were different. And it was not the only, or first time, he pardoned the decision for divorce. However, to my knowledge it was the first time, he expressed, what he would personally do in a given situation. It was that difference that hit me like a ton of bricks.

      I have discovered it is unhealthy to go into, or have, a relationship which hopes or expects the other person’s values to change. It is even more frustrating to think you have the power to make a change happen in someone else. Values are deeply rooted in each person and essentially make them who they are. Some people are okay with having a marriage relationship with someone of different values. It can work if both parties are okay with it and have a mutual understanding. They could change, yes. But the likelihood of his heart genuinely changing towards the situation he described was incredibly low. I do believe people can change, but I knew I did not have that much power over someone else’s life.

      In marriage, there are no outs. You have to work it out. In dating, you do have a choice because a lifelong commitment has not yet been made. There is a difference. By no means, am I saying this ex was a bad person. However, I did realize they were not the right person for me at that point in our life.

  • Rebekah, thanks for sharing. Ending a relationship on that note couldn’t have been easy. To often, I’m tempted to settle for someone less; to lower my standard. Your willingness to follow through on a conviction is encouraging.

    • Thanks Andrew for the feedback!

      You’re right it was not easy, but it was worth it.

      Perfection is an illusion – but there is a perfect person out there for you!

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